Minutemen Special Teams Prevail at Matthews

Boston, MA- The 2021 Hockey East calendar began with a triple header bang. Providence and Vermont battled to a 0-0 tie in Rhode Island with the Friars getting the extra point in the shootout. Connecticut came back against New Hampshire in Durham. And the capper to the new year’s first night presented a ranked matchup between #9 Massachusetts and #10/13 Northeastern at Matthews Arena that lived up to expectations.

Northeastern got the early jump with blue line star Jordan Harris potting the first goal of the game 7:07 into the frame. At the period’s mid-point though, the UMass offense and Northeastern penalties tipped the scales the other way.

Northeastern took three penalties in the last 6:42 of the first. Two were Unsportsmanlike Conduct minors and one was a Too Many Men on the Ice infraction. Only the first resulted in a UMass goal, when St. Lawrence transfer Carson Gicewicz capped a 20 second long power play at the net with his 7th goal of the season in his 11th game in Amherst.

UMass tipped the scales further in their favor in the second by dominating the faceoff dot 18-9. Their efforts resulted in another power play goal following a Jayden Struble boarding minor. This time it took 14 seconds for Minnesota transfer Garret Wait to finish off the power play and give the Minutemen a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.

Northeastern answered in the third with two quick goals. First, freshman Ty Jackson backhanded a shot over UMass goalie Matt Murray’s head to tie the game 6:38 into the stanza. Then, 2:39 later, Jordan Harris whipped a missile through traffic to post Northeastern to a 3-2 lead.

But, the Minutemen had a final push back in them. First, freshman Josh Lopina tied the game just 32 seconds after his team surrendered the lead. Then, with 5:17 left in regulation, Oliver Chau, skating as the team’s extra skater, scored to make the game 4-3. Northeastern never got a clean look thanks to the UMass forecheck and a disastrous late penalty.

With 1:07 left, UMass issued a coaches challenge, believing that Jayden Struble speared Anthony Del Gaizo and that the officials missed the call. “We saw it clearly on the bench,” commented UMass Head Coach Greg Carvel. “Anthony is a tough kid and he’s not just gonna go down in pain to get a call like some other kids will.” The refs reviewed and issued a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct to Struble. UMass played keep away for the final minute and closed out a 4-3 win.

In all, Northeastern took eight penalties for a total of 35 penalty minutes. UMass had five resulting power plays and scored twice on the advantage. The Minutemen took five penalties of their own but successfully killed all the Huskies’ power play opportunities.

The Minutemen improve to 7-3-1. The team’s total of 40 goals is tied for the most in the nation with Bowling Green.

St. Lawrence graduate transfer Carson Gicewicz’s 7 goals are tied for the most in the nation.

“I thought our team played a great road game,” said Carvel. “It’s hard to win games here. I’m very proud of our team.”

Matt Murray stopped 25 of 28 shots faced in the UMass net.

Northeastern drops to 3-2-2.

“It was a game that ebbed and flowed,” observed Northeastern Head Coach Jim Madigan. “We had the lead with about ten minutes to go in the third period and we squandered the lead. We didn’t defend well enough around our net.”

Jordan Harris’s two goal game is the second of his season. The Junior Assistant Captain from Haverhill has 4 goals on the season, tying him for second in the nation for defenseman and 8 points, tying him for 8th nationally.

Connor Murphy stopped 24 of 28 shots in net.

The teams rematch on Saturday night at Mullins Center in Amherst. Puck drops at 6 pm ET.

Northeastern is scheduled to face Boston College in a home-and-home matchup next weekend.

UMass next plays on Thursday against the Connecticut Huskies